Director: Judd Apatow
Writer: Judd Apatow
Stand up comedy and comedians are a fascinating topic for me. The common attributes of comedians are that they are shy and timid and have low self esteem and are insecure. But I never understood how with those qualities you are willing to get up in front of a crowd and subject yourself to public scrutiny. How do they keep going after getting heckled or after a decade of club gigs with no sign of success. In my mind you would think that would require a lot of self assurance and confidence. Obviously they have some confidence but over the years I have read a lot about comedians and seen a lot of interviews and they all seem to portray themselves as nervous and scared people. Maybe that is just the character they want to put forth, the vulnerable person just looking for love, but it is a theme that I keep comedy across in regards to stand up comedians.
But I digress, my point being it is a topic and a personality type that I am really interested in. Maybe that is why I love Funny People more than most, the concept alone has me already really interested. I also love Judd Apatow and his whole gang. There is a real genuine sense of natural friendship in the way they interact that in my mind elevates the movie and the world that is created in it.
Apatow has been critisized, with this movie especially, as being to flabby with the edit but I really couldn’t disagree more. Even an two hours and twenty minutes in length I don’t find this movie boring. Could be have cut it to the bone at 100 or so minutes? Yeah I am sure you could do that with every movie but in the process you lose the texture and the flavor. There is an easy goingness to his movies that I think is a lot of the appeal for me. The movie isn’t racing from plot point to plot point. For me the scenes end when they feel it is right to end. Some call it self induldgent but I think it is just Apatow being honest with what feels right to him as the creator.
Apatow grew up worshipping comedians and he started out writing comedy for a lot of the legends before getting the chance to writer/director/produce on his own. The nature of the story is obviously very personal and I am sure very auto-biographical. I think knowing that makes me appreciate it more and maybe forgive its flaws. When a director is actually saying something meaningful to them I think it comes through, as it does in this film, and I will take that kind of bloat over Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End type bloat any day of the week.
And even with all that the movie is funny as fuck. I don’t care what people say about the last hour being too serious or whatever because I laugh from beginning to end. Adam Sandler is an actor I am very conflicted about. I see movies like this and Punch Drunk Love and I think this guy has good work in him, but then a bulk of his movie are trash under his Happy Madison production label. But looking at the box office I guess I am not in the popular opinion on this. I hope Sandler does more non “Sandler” movies more often because I truly think he is a good actor when the martial warrants it. When Comedians take on a more dramatic role or something outside of their typical schtick the public seems to get surprised but thinking back to when this happens when is it bad? Robin Williams, Sandler, Will Ferrell, all modern actors known for Comedy that have, I think, proven themselves as being more dimensional than people give them credit for.
I guess I understand why this movie didn’t catch on the way Apatow’s previous two films did. I guess I understand why it isn’t as loved or talked about as other things these people have done. But apart of me doesn’t understand because I love the movie. I think Almost Famous is a pretty much perfect movie. It is one that I don’t think could be too long. The world is just so full and real and honest and I could watch it all day long. I feel that way about Funny People with its obvious love of the world of comedy (instead of rock and roll). I don’t think it is as great or perfect but I love its clear love of that world and that excitement and appreciation gets me excited. I hope in the future once people distance themselves from their expectations of an Adam Sandler Summer movie people will revisit this and realize it is much more special than they original thought.